Chess 2 impressions: an enchanting new twist on an ancient game

Rushing your king over the midline is a valid

It takes some nerve to lay claim to the title Chess 2: The Sequel. The original board game has few peers so historic—perhaps only the likes of Mahjong, Go, and Othello—and its balance and playability haven’t exactly been screaming for a remake.

That hasn’t stopped fans and addicts from tinkering with the game over the past 10 centuries. The changes have usually been small and insanely specific: one variant reverses the pawn’s abilities—i.e. diagonal movement, forward capture—while another variant boosts the board size to 9×9 and adds a bishop/knight combo “prime minster” piece. These various, incremental tweaks have never stuck around in competitive play, however, which might be why Chess 2 has staked its hopes on a far more staggering update.

The basic rules for Chess 2 have been floating around the Internet for over three years, accessible to anyone with a printer and a standard chess board. But the game’s big, splashy, mass-consumption debut came this week through a free-to-play download on the beleaguered Ouya game console. The result will certainly get more people playing—and possibly even loving—Chess 2, but this digital edition makes a mess of laying out the new rules’ plush red carpet.

Rushing and wagering

Before picking up an Ouya controller, you’ll want to study the game’s rule changes. The first and easiest to understand is an additional win condition. You can still win the classic way—by trapping your opponent’s king in a checkmate—but bolder players can also win by sending their king into the opponent’s half of the game board (i.e. past the first four rows) without being in check.

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